Press release from Gloucestershire County Council
Local Healthwatch has an important role in promoting the interests of local people in health and social care and can influence the way services are commissioned and provided.
Health and social care has changed a lot since Healthwatch Gloucestershire started in April 2013 and this was the first opportunity for the county council to look at how the service works.
With the current contract to provide the service due to come to an end at the end of March 2017, the council asked for feedback from the public including under represented groups, young people and ethnic minorities, to help design a new service suitable for all.
The council has now used this feedback and looked at what works well in other parts of the country to help shape a service that will meet the needs of residents in the county.
Following a competitive tender, Evolving Communities has been offered the contract to provide Local Healthwatch for five years, with an option to extend for a further two years. Their service will keep the well known Healthwatch Gloucestershire brand.
The new local Healthwatch service will use the knowledge and strengths of Gloucestershire communities, provide opportunities for local volunteers and make use of digital technology to help people find information about health and social care.
The new contract will also allow for more collaboration between local Healthwatch and partner organisations which will mean they can benefit from research into the views and experiences of local people.
The contract is initially for five years, with an option to extend for an extra two years on top of that. The total value of the contract is up to £1.8million over seven years.
Cllr Dorcas Binns, cabinet member for older people, said: “I would like to thank Gloucestershire Rural Community Council for all the work they have done to set up the county’s first Healthwatch service in 2013 and grow its membership since then.
“With the current contract due to expire, this is the first chance we had to look at how local Healthwatch works. We ran a public consultation at the end of the year and had some really good feedback. This, along with looking at other examples of best practice around the country has helped us to make this decision.
“We believe the county’s new Healthwatch service will really represent our communities as well as work closely with current Healthwatch Gloucestershire members to involve them in the running of the new organisation and I’m looking forward to working with the new provider.”
Christine Graves, chair of the new provider, Evolving Communities, said: “Our organisation is experienced in running a high quality local Healthwatch service and we are delighted to have the opportunity to work with local partners and the community to develop Healthwatch Gloucestershire over the next few years.
“We are looking forward to building on what’s been achieved so far and working with local people on the health and care issues which matter to them most.”